It’s true that you want to keep your writing as conversational as possible, but at the same time, you want to avoid mistakes that can lower the grade of what you produce.
No one wants to read Shakespeare on a regular basis, but at the same time no one wants to read sloppy writing because that’s just not engaging.
Writing like you talk might work for a corporate email, but it might be the kiss of death for your fiction or non fiction book – if it’s not well done.
One of the biggest mistakes I see self-published authors make is start a sentence with BUT or AND!
If you plan on writing the following in your next book or blog post:
We went out last night for dinner. And we ordered fried calamari. But it turned out they were sold out for the day. And we had to figure out what we were in the mood to order to replace the calamari since we were in the mood. And then as were making our selection my friend Tina showed up. Aaaaaaaand…
I’m exaggerating, but you see what I’m trying to illustrate.
That’s honestly the worst thing you can do because it makes you sound like a 5-year old kid or a valley girl.
If you still want to keep a conversational and lighter aspect to your dialogues, but want to make your story flow, here are a few practical tips to break the curse of the BUT or AND!
5 Ways to Avoid Starting A Sentence with “But” or “And”:
Before, I get started, I want to say “stay with me on this”, as some of this is really English 101 and will remind you of being back in the classroom, but this is important to improve the quality of your writing.
I’ll share the grammatical lesson and then will share a do and don’t scenario to make it easy for you to grasp.
Here we go …
1. Compound sentence. Don’t try to avoid run-on-sentence by starting the next sentence with a BUT or AND!
Instead of: No job is perfect. But too often, young tradespeople complain about working conditions without offering solutions.
Try: No job is perfect, but tradespeople too often complain about working conditions without offering solutions.
2. Semicolon. This is a perfect way to unite two concise, related thoughts.
Instead of: I have very basic taste in food. And toast and strawberry jam are my favorite breakfast.
Try: I have basic taste in food; toast and strawberry jam are my favorite breakfast.
3. Transitional phrases. If you have a transitional phrase in place, there’s no need for a transitional conjunction.
Instead of: And despite her sophisticated & polished demeanor, Vivian is a hoarder.
Try: Despite her sophisticated & polished demeanor, Vivian is a hoarder.
4. Eliminate conjunctions. The usual purpose of using “and” and “but” between clauses is to bolster or negate the previous contention.
Instead of: Home renovation shows are popular at our house. And we never miss an episode of Mike Holmes “Holmes on Homes”.
Try: Home renovation shows are popular at our house. We never miss an episode of Mike Holmes “Holmes on Homes”.
5. Be creative and substitute words.Consider using words like also, however, moreover, and the like are effective. That said, use them sparingly because they can seem a little stuffy.
Instead of: I convinced my grandmother to come with me to the gym. And to make up for the fact she didn’t like exercising, she brought some Martinis, sat and watched me workout.
Try: I convinced my grandmother to come with me to the gym. However, to make up for the fact she didn’t like exercising, she brought some Martinis, sat and watched me workout.
It’s going to be challenging at first to stop using BUT or AND, but with a little practice … it can be done.
The best way for this to become more natural is to practice.
If you have a blog and write regular content, try to force yourself to avoid using BUT or AND in your blog posts to condition your mind to start looking for different sentence structure.
As you put this practice in place, you’ll quickly notice a huge improvement in your writing.
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